Weasels are voracious little carnivores that love to prey on mice, voles, rats, and other small rodents. For this reason, they’re often considered a benefit to have around – free pest control! But if you have chickens, ducks, or other small animals around, weasels can and will go after them. The good news is, there are natural ways to deter them by using scents and smells they dislike.
Weasels have an excellent sense of smell which they use primarily to find food. While the only proven scent effective against weasels is predator urine, things like mint, hot peppers, citronella, and eucalyptus have a strong enough smell to make a weasel look for alternative areas and stay away.
If you’re having problems with weasels near your chicken coop, or maybe they’re making burrows in your yard, read on to learn about the 9 scents that weasels hate and how to use them.
Why Repel Weasels?
North America is home to three species of weasels: the long-tailed weasel, short-tailed weasel, and least weasel. The long-tailed weasel is the most widely distributed and the largest. The least weasel is the smallest, weighing about as much as a golf ball, and holds the record for the world’s smallest carnivore.
Kind of adorable, right?
These little mammals may be cute, but they are always on the hunt and can be quite aggressive toward anything that gets between them and their food. They’ve been known to go after animals much larger than themselves when their dinner is on the line.
Weasels are basically the hummingbirds of the mammal world. They have an extremely high metabolism, needing to eat up to 40% or more of their body weight daily according to the Alaska Department of Fish & Game.
It’s this insane hunger that can make weasels a nuisance near your home, especially if you have chickens, ducks, or other small animals around.
Weasels Go After Chickens
There are only two main problems with having weasels around. The first is that they’ll go after your chickens and ducks.
Weasels are, well, weasely! They can maneuver their bodies into the tiniest of spaces, so if your chickens aren’t locked up tight, they may be vulnerable to weasels. Your coop must not allow more than a ½ inch opening in the fencing to keep weasels out.
And beware – weasels are active both at night and during the day. Just because it’s bright daylight out does not mean your chickens are safe.
Weasels Live In Burrows
More accurately, weasels live in other animals’ burrows. For the most part, a weasel will not dig its own burrow. Instead, it uses the burrows of gophers, prairie dogs, mice, and other small rodents.
So, if you’ve finally managed to scare off those prairie dogs or groundhogs, a weasel can easily move into the now-abandoned burrow and call it home.
These burrows can cause disturbances in your lawn, including the yellowing of grass, destruction of landscaping, and general unpleasant aesthetics.
To keep these little mammals at bay, try using scents and smells around your chicken coop or property line to discourage them from getting too close.
If weasels are becoming too big a problem to handle with scents and other deterrents, get help from a professional! Our nationwide pest control finder can get you in contact with a professional for free.
9 Scents That Weasels Hate
Keep in mind that weasels are opportunistic. They will not go after your chickens or ducks unless the opportunity arises. They’re much more likely to go after mice, rats, voles, and moles than your chickens.
With that being said, if the population of mice and rats has been exhausted, or a chicken coop is poorly constructed, a weasel will go after bigger prey to keep up with its dietary needs.
Oftentimes you will not know a weasel is around until a chicken is injured or taken. Because of this, it’s best to start using scents and smells before you have a weasel problem, rather than after something has already happened.
Weasels have a small hunting range, typically only traveling a mile or so from their burrows each day. If they find a food source (your chickens) they’re likely to keep coming back.
Use Predator Smells To Scare Weasels Away
Weasels prey on a variety of different animals, but they can also fall prey to other animals. Their most prominent predators are horned owls and martens, but occasionally they’ll fall victim to foxes, coyotes, hawks, wolves, and lynx.
As we mentioned before, a weasel’s sense of smell is very keen. If they pick up on the scent of a predator, they’re more likely to avoid that area than if there wasn’t any scent.
You can use something like American Heritage Industries Wolf Urine to repel weasels. This is collected from wolves in preserves or zoos with the use of special flooring to collect the samples.
This scent works by appealing to a weasel’s sense of danger. When they smell a wolf, or any large predator around, they’ll avoid the area for survival unless they are truly starving.
To use this product, you can spread it around the perimeter of your property or around the outside of your chicken coop. Be sure to place it far enough away that it does not overly stress or disturb your chickens. Wolves are their predators too.
You can combine this with Wildlife Research 375 Key-Wick. Dip the wicks into the bottle to absorb the scent and hang the wicks around your chicken coop or the perimeter of your yard.
This is an excellent choice if you also have raccoons and/or coyotes around as it will repel them too!
If you’re not so sure about using predator urine to scare away weasels, you may be in luck if you have a pet dog or cat.
Although weasels, cats, and dogs are not natural enemies, there are still instinctual codes embedded in weasels to stay away from wolf-like and cougar-like smells. Dogs and cats are related to these animals, and still carry an air of danger about them.
You don’t necessarily need your dog or cat to patrol the area 24/7. All you need is their scent wafting through the air to fool the weasel into thinking they’re close by.
You can use your pet’s fur that you collect by the pound in your vacuum cleaner, or simply drape one of their favorite blankets near your chicken coop or other areas you want to repel weasels from.
Keep in mind that whatever scent you use, it may alternatively attract the animal you’re trying to repel. In that case, you may be inclined to try another method or use fox urine to repel weasels instead.
Minty Smells Repel Weasels (Peppermint Oil)
Predator urine is the only known surefire way to repel weasels. With that being said, weasels may be voracious hunters but they can’t find their food without a sense of smell.
The idea behind using mint to repel weasels is that the strong odor will mask the scent of any nearby food. Even if you don’t have any chickens or ducks luring weasels on your property, this scent is strong enough to overwhelm a weasel’s sense of smell, which it needs to survive.
Commercial products like Mighty Mint Peppermint Oil Rodent Repellent are a great choice if you want something that’s ready-to-use and don’t mind spending a little extra money in exchange for less work.
Once you get it, spray it in any areas you’ve noticed weasels, around the outside of your chicken coop, or near any weasel burrowing activity.
If you’ve got a green thumb, consider planting mint in a pot and place them in areas you want to repel weasels from. You can also plant costmary, which is another type of plant that emits a peppermint-like smell and will come back every year.
Weasels Hate Hot Peppers
Although we humans love that burning sensation that comes from hot peppers, weasels do not. The burning sensation masks their sense of smell, which they need to survive. If they smell or taste anything too hot, they will not be returning for a second taste-testing.
The good news is that chickens (and all birds) cannot taste capsaicin, which is the chemical that gives hot peppers their heat and spice, and what drives mammals in the opposite direction.
So, if you want to repel weasels from your chicken coop you can sprinkle hot pepper flakes like Indus Organics Cayenne Pepper Flakes around the outside of your coop. This is a repellent that you can place right beside the coop, instead of further away.
If a few flakes make their way into the coop, the chickens won’t mind. In fact, research has shown that adding small amounts of red pepper to a chicken’s diet can improve egg production. A two for one!
You can also make a spray with hot sauce, adding 2 tablespoons hot sauce for every 1 cup of water into a spray bottle. Spray the area around your chicken coop or near any burrowing activity on your lawn. Also consider woodpiles, yard debris, and spaces beneath buildings.
Weasels Hate Citronella, Eucalyptus and Tea Tree Oils
Essential oils have gained a lot of popularity for their therapeutic benefits. But essential oils can do more than just smell good and relieve stress. They can also repel weasels!
The four types of essential oils that can be effective against weasels include one we already mentioned: mint. The other three include:
- Tea Tree
These three essential oils are very aromatic, which makes them perfect for repelling animals that depend on their sense of smell to find food and detect predators.
To use these essential oils, place 10-15 drops for every 1 cup of water into a spray bottle. Feel free to combine the scents, or try one at a time.
Once you are armed with your spray, head out and spray the areas you want to repel weasels from.
Always be cautious when spraying near a chicken coop or duck pond – you don’t want the essential oil to touch or stress out your animals, and you don’t want the oil traveling into any water sources. Always be sure to dilute essential oils before using them, and do not overspray.
You can also use these sprays around weasel hiding places such as debris piles, woodpiles, under sheds, or under your porch.
Weasels Hate Used Coffee Grounds
Some people consider their morning coffee an almost sacred thing. My hand is raised, for one! Without it, road rage, sleepiness, and headaches seem to follow.
Your morning coffee not only wakes you up and gets you ready for the day, but it can now repel weasels! Don’t worry, you don’t have to share your coffee, just the spent coffee grounds.
Coffee grounds have a very bitter and pungent smell that is strong enough to repel weasels, along with a host of other pesky critters like deer and raccoons.
Although there is no scientific evidence to prove this theory, the idea is similar to our essential oils: the strong scent will overwhelm a weasel’s sense of smell, driving it away from the area.
To use spent coffee grounds, spread them around in a fence-like barrier around chicken coops, property lines, woodpiles, and other areas you want to protect.
The nice thing about coffee grounds is that, if you’re a regular coffee drinker, you have a daily supply of repellent that’s already bought and paid for.
Just be sure not to overdo it. Coffee grounds are acidic and can harm your lawn if overused. Weasels can smell WAY better than us, so if you think the smell is strong, you’ve probably used a little too much.
How To Deter Weasels For Good
The best way to deter any unwanted visitor is to combine multiple forms of repellents. Scents and smells are not the strongest deterrents, but they work great when combined with other deterrents such as physical barriers or visual scare tactics.
If you’ve cleaned up your yard, eliminated woodpiles, and boarded up spaces beneath buildings and you’re still seeing weasels, you may need to do some additional deterring.
As we mentioned before, weasels live in burrows. They don’t often dig their own burrows, but they do have the capability to dig. A strong chicken coop will be the key to deterring weasels permanently.
Keep a few things in mind for your chicken coop:
Use ½-inch fencing: The way a weasel’s body is set up allows it to fit in anywhere that its head can fit through. On average, this means about a ½ inch space. Be sure your chicken wire is as small, if not smaller, than a ½ inch opening.
Bury fencing six inches: It’s good practice to bury the fencing around your chicken coop at least six inches. The best practice is to shape it outward at the bottom like an ‘L’
Collect eggs regularly: Don’t give a weasel a reason to approach your chicken coop. They may be after the eggs, but they are voracious feeders. If the chickens get between a weasel and its egg, the weasel will not back down.
For ducks, you can follow the guide in our post for 13 Simple Tips To Keep Raccoons Away From Your Ducks. Although this post is aimed at raccoons, there is a lot of valuable information about keeping ducks safe from generalized predators like weasels.
Weasels mostly use their nose to find food, but they also have good eyesight. You can use this to your advantage by setting up predator decoys.
Things like the Ugold Solar Powered Owl decoy can scare away weasels. This owl is an excellent choice for a few reasons:
- Solar-powered – no need to deal with changing batteries.
- Shaped like a great horned owl, one of the two main predators of weasels.
- Makes a hooting noise, rotates its head, and has glowing eyes for extra scariness.
- Motion-activated, so it won’t be going off 24/7 to let a predator get used to the noise.
Be sure to switch up the location of your owl to really keep those weasels on their toes!
You can also use coyote or wolf silhouettes in your yard, but weasels will often get accustomed to their presence unless you switch up their location often.
That’s All For Now
Weasels can be beneficial to have around. Their love of mice, rats, voles, and moles make them a natural pest controller. However, if you have chickens, ducks, or other small animals like rabbits or kittens around, you may not want weasels close to your home.
There are a few different avenues you can take to repel them from your yard. One of them is using scents and smells they dislike. To recap, the 9 scents that repel weasels include:
- Wolf Urine
- Dog/Cat Smells
- Hot Peppers
- Citronella Oil
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Tea Tree Oil
- Coffee Grounds
You can also use physical and visual deterrents to repel weasels.
The BEST way to repel weasels from your property is to combine several different deterrents and continually switch them up. This won’t allow weasels to get comfortable, and is sure to help keep them away for good!
Erlinge, S. (1975). Feeding Habits of the Weasel Mustela nivalis in Relation to Prey Abundance. Oikos, 26(3), 378-384. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3543510
Heffner, R. S., & Heffner, H. E. (1985, November 29). Hearing in Mammals: The Least Weasel. Journal of Mammalogy, 66(4), 745-755.
Li, H., Jin, L., Wu, F., Thacker, P., Li, X., You, J., Wang, X., Liu, S., Li, S., & Xu, Y. (2012). Effect of Red Pepper (Capsicum frutescens) Powder or Red Pepper Pigment on the Performance and Egg Yolk Color of Laying Hens. Asian-Australasian journal of animal sciences, 25(11), 1605–1610. https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.2012.12235
Richter, S. M., & Schauber, E. M. (2006, January). Distribution of the Long-tailed Weasel (Mustela frenata) in Illinois. Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science, 99(3-4), 153-160. https://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://scholar.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1094&context=zool_pubs
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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